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I have a close friend who I have been very supportive of each-other and it's been a relatively decent friendship but lately it's gotten out of hand.

My friend calls me 3 to 4 times a day and texts me non-stop. To the point I almost expect it. He always makes some kind of excuse why he needs to call me, for example he will say "I need you to call me. It's important." or "I have a question to ask you. Can you call me?" Then even if I tell him if he can just text me or if it can wait, he will call me anyways. Doesn't even matter what I'm doing. I could be at work, or out in town, or doing chores, and I'd have to drop everything. And these conversations will go on forever, to the point of wasting my time because there talking about stuff I really don't care about or he talked about it already.

I've tried a few things. Ignoring him turns into a nightmare. He will begin spam calling and texting me till I pick up. I'll wake up after a nap or coming back from outside, only to find tons of messages and voicemails with a slow progression of him getting pissed off because I didn't answer his calls. And the direct approach only gets similar results with the same excuse: "I have a right to call my friends!" I can understand like once a week, but 3 or more times a day... that's excessive...

It's putting a strain on our friendship and I can't stand doing this everyday. I'm desperate for some way to fix this without ending what would be a perfectly fine friendship otherwise.


Answering some questions:

Is there a chance of mental illness?

If you consider being short fused a mental illness. Otherwise, I'm sure if that was the case, I would have picked up on it.

Is there something in it for me?

No. I'm not a person who would use someone else for any reason and neither has he. Matter of fact, we hate depending on others. (Unless I have misunderstood what you mean.)

Is this a possible relationship issue?

I'm only clarifying this because I saw it brought up. I'm a dude, Hes a dude. There's nothing between us other then a long-term friendship. I'm not even going to bring sexuality into the mix ether.

What is he calling about?

When he talks about "urgency" he usually dose have a problem, but its usually only minor problem, like something I usually cant help him with and sometimes I'm sure he could care for on his own. But from what I've caught onto, its usually only something he can get my attention for so he can go "Well, since I have you on the phone..." And then he starts talking to me about random things that just have no connection to his original problem and are simply not important.

marked as duplicate by curiousdannii, ElizB, Lord Farquaad, Ælis, Anoplexian Sep 7 '18 at 17:06

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    Why does he think he has "a right to call [his] friends"? Doesn't he think the freinds don't have the right to ignore his calls? – glglgl Sep 6 '18 at 11:21
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    Do you feel this friendship is bidirectional? Is there something in it for you? I think it is important to realise what this friendship is for you before considering any of the answers. I think it could help put things in perspective. – Mixxiphoid Sep 6 '18 at 11:35
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    Does your friend have a job? I have been in situations where friends who didn't have jobs got bored during the day and needed human interaction, so they called their friends to talk. – shoover Sep 6 '18 at 16:46
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    I think you may have misinterpreted the "is there something in it for you". From what you say here, it seems your friend has GREAT benefit in this friendship (you always listening/answering). Is there anything in it for you? Or is you keeping that friendship is just you basically agreeing to being called at all times, every day, like this? – Patrice Sep 7 '18 at 3:17
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    "And I'd have to drop everything". Why is it that when a phone rings, it's compulsory to answer the call? This compunction may be at the heart of the problem. – Tim Sep 7 '18 at 7:34
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I think that you're going to have to set a boundary, enforce the boundary, and try not to care about his reaction. This will probably mean accepting that the friendship might end.

With my mother (and I realize that's a different relationship) I set conditions for communicating with her, and I clearly explained them to her. The rule was that if she called me precisely ONCE and left a message on my cell, clearly and directly asking me to call her back, I would probably call her within 24 hours. If I didn't, she was allowed to call me ONCE in the next 24 hours. If she violated any of these rules, then I made sure that I did NOT call her in the 24 hours after she violated the rule.

It worked. If it hadn't, I would have upped the consequences, such as a week's timeout instead of a day's timeout.

Now, it's harder to lay down the law with a friend, but you're going to have to.

I'm imagining a phone call:

"Joe, I can't support the amount of communication we've been having. From now on, I can't accept your calls or texts on weekdays or Saturdays. On Sundays, I'll try to make time to listen to your messages and look at your texts, and I may be able to call you sometime Sunday afternoon. But, Joe, if the messages and texts are angry, I'm not going to WANT to call you. If there are too many, I'm not going to have time to listen to or read all of them."

(rant rant gnash rant)

"Yeah, you have a right to call. But I have a right to decide when and if I answer."

(gnash rant gnash rant)

"Joe, you seem upset. I'm going to let you gather your thoughts. Maybe we'll talk on Sunday. Bye, Joe."

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    Excellent answer. I'm not sure about iPhone but Androids have a customizable Silent Time feature that might work here to prevent any rule violations from disturbing them (tech-recipes.com/rx/34406/…). – aleppke Sep 6 '18 at 22:31
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    1) rant rant gnash rant made me laugh 2) What if there is a legitamte emergency, such as someone's had a stroke? – tox123 Sep 7 '18 at 3:43
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    (I've dealt with a similar situation.) The friend will not be able to communicate legitimate emergency information quickly. If doing so is important to the friend, he will have to change his method of communication so that he can send 'emergency' messages. If the emergency is important to the OP, he will find out by other means, since it's not likely that the friend is the only person the OP knows who will know about the emergency. – Curt J. Sampson Sep 7 '18 at 4:21
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    @tox123 : Then that's a very good incentive for the friend to stop calling so frequently, isn't it? When it really does happen, "The sky is falling" won't be taken seriously if it has been falsely announced several times daily for the last year or two. OP might even point this out to the friend to mull over. – MPW Sep 7 '18 at 13:30
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I'm desperate for some way to fix this without ending what would be a perfectly fine friendship otherwise.

This is just not possible. Not that the friendship absolutely won't survive if you set boundaries, but there's also no method that guarantees it. You cannot control how he will react, you only have power over your own actions. And since you say the friendship won’t last if this goes on, the only thing you can do is tell him how he is hurting this friendship and what would save it.

So, set boundaries, be very clear about them with him, and enforce them. Tell him that you value his friendship, you wish to be a good friend to him, but the constant calls and the demand that you must always be available to him is just not possible, and it must stop, or you won’t be able to be his friend anymore. Than set the boundaries which are reasonable to you. Limit the amount of phone calls per day or per week. If he still calls you and messages you frequently, enforce those boundaries. Block his number and send him a message, something like : “Like I said last time, I can’t just be available to you always every day, and your stream of messages are stressing me out. I’ll call you when I’m ready to talk to you”.

"I have a right to call my friends!"

Any sane person would understand that your friends shouldn’t be dropping everything to take your calls, multiple times a day. If he says stuff like that, ignore him, don’t go into that argument. Stick to your boundaries. Just say “I hear you, but I still want you to stop spamming me when I’m unavailable.”

One last thing: what is he calling you about? Does he really have so many urgencies? If yes, there might be organizations whose job is to help him out. If not, he might be suffering from a mental illness and needs more help than you can provide. Either way, it might be useful to talk about it to him and see how he can get the help he needs without burdening you so much.

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I would attempt to be straightforward and brash, yet in a personal and friendly manner. There are a variety of excuses you could use (as long as you don't look like a hypocrite). Maybe something like:

-"Hey dude, I know you love to communicate, but it's taking a lot of time up and distracting when I am doing stuff."
-"I love talking and whatever but I can't be calling and texting you all the time."
-"I need go to the bathroom/call someone else/drive/take a nap/etc."

Of course making excuses will only get you so far and he won't get any sort of hint and change. You could also accept his phone calls but limit them to X number of minutes, saying you're doing something and need to focus or that you have other things to do.

If the guy is really too thick-headed to take a hint that he needs to dial it back, it might not be optimal, but maybe you could escalate it to the point where you get into an argument, and then can reconcile. I assume your friendship is strong enough however. telling him you need your space and he needs to either condense what he has to tell you into a single phone call a day or wait a few days to unload, at the risk of him being offended, might play out better in the long run. If he is taken back by it, after a few days, you can approach him and say "I'm sorry, but I need my space. We can still talk, just don't call and text every day. If I say i'm busy or don't respond, I'll contact you as soon as I can." This of course assume he's rational enough to handle it.

And perhaps, maybe there is no easy solution. I had a friend who would constantly text me, and in a matter I especially hate (really short texts but a lot of them). I wouldn't have my phone at work so when I get to my car, there would be 20 messages, all short and stupid and every day. I told her repeatedly and quite harshly, that she NEEDS to stop texting me so frequently else we would not be friends anymore. I said not to call me and/or leave voicemails (as I really hate those). It escalated to the point where I blocked her number (but I still get the messages though my computer messaging application as the number is only blocked on my phone's level. I made it quite clear her number was blocked yet I would still get a flood of messages for weeks without me responding until I would just spam to her to stop and her number was blocked. Needless to say we aren't friends. She would absolutely not get a hint. We were definitely not anywhere close as friends as you probably are, even if you aren't close. I'm just telling you how some people will not listen to reason even if you shout it in their face.

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    The question specifically states to avoid losing the frienship and in your answer you put an example of your own problem that resulted in losing the friendship. Try to tailor your answer more to the question and avoid talking about yourself or your own problems – GamerGypps Sep 6 '18 at 11:29
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    That was only an anecdote. My answer remains the same. The idea was that some people will not change and if that's the case with his friend, he will either have to learn to live with it or drop it all together. – Greg Sep 6 '18 at 11:49
  • @GamerGypps not every problem has the outcome we desire, I believe going into a situation being fully aware of some very common outcomes is desirable. – WendyG Sep 6 '18 at 12:01
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If your friend has nothing to do with his free time (except calling you), you may want to consider finding him a suitable activity which will occupy him. If he's looking for a job, help him finding one. If he's single, make him meet some acquaintances of yours. Suggest a book he should read, or a netflix series he should watch, or a computer game. If he has hobbies, make him meet people you know who are into something similar.

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    I thinks these steps only serve one goal: make him even more attached to OP – user6109 Sep 6 '18 at 11:40
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    @Daniel More attached but with less free time to call. – Dmitry Grigoryev Sep 6 '18 at 11:59
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    Actually this isn't a bad idea. If he's bored/lonely then he could be fixating on the OP as the only outlet. Providing other people/things/activities etc could be the diversion he needs. – Tim B Sep 6 '18 at 21:14

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